Rick Kean stands on the wharf, noting the potential work that will soon unfold in Valleyfield, in the amalgamated community of New-Wes-Valley.
The Bonavista Bay community was one of 12 areas along the east coast of Newfoundland to receive word, Aug. 30, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) would be investing $25.8 million in infrastructure upgrades through its Small Craft Harbours program.
For Valleyfield, that work will manifest itself into the widening of the area’s wharf by approximately 20 feet. The work will see wharf cribs placed in front of existing infrastructure. Tenders for the project closed the day of the announcement, and according to DFO, the contract will be awarded in the coming weeks with construction commencing shortly thereafter. Construction completion is expected by summer 2020.
And it’s much needed work, according to Kean, who owns one of the 61 vessels to call Valleyfield homeport.
“The wharf on the outside is getting run down and a lot of the big timbers are gone,” he said. “These repairs are long overdue.”
The area where he stands, shoal water makes it impossible for large vessels to dock. The widening, he said, would place the wharf in deeper water so boats could dock there.
Furthermore, he said, the narrow space makes it increasingly difficult for fishermen to access their vessels to add and remove fishing gear.
“Right now, there’s barely room enough to get a vehicle out on the wharf because you can’t turn around,” he said. “I operate a boom truck in the area as well, you can get it out there, but there’s not enough room to get the support legs out.”
To make it all work, as is, requires a lot of juggling.
When essential equipment needs to be added, Kean said, vessels have to be maneuvered, so the widest portion of the wharf is being accessed.
“But it cuts off the main drive, and when this work is being done, nobody can access vessels on the main finger peer,” Kean said. “After this work is done we should be able to accommodate everybody.”
Scott Boland, president of Beothuk Fish Processors Ltd., sees benefit in the upgrade as well.
He said the wharf was in place when Beothuk opened its doors in 1967, and other than two expansions and some resurfacing, he said, little upkeep has been done.
Once completed, Boland said, it will allow for smoother and safer offloading operations.
As shellfish stocks decline, there has been a shift back to more traditional fisheries, such as cod. The widening of the wharf, he said, allows the multi-species company, which has some 450 employees, to plan for the future.
“Beothuk has been looking at ways it can realign and restructure its facility. This may be additions to the building or a change in direction for processing,” he said. “The widening of the wharf is certainly going to allow us an enormous amount of space to access areas of the plant with ease.”
According to Bonavista-Burin-Trinity MP Churence Rogers, who made the funding announcement in Valleyfield, the upgrades speak to a much larger picture he says the Liberal government is trying to address.
Within his district, Small Craft Harbours has a presence in 103 communities.
“We have 70 direct small craft harbor facilities that require significant funds to maintain, repair or replace,” he said. “It’s the largest Small Craft Harbours riding in the country, we have 12.4 per cent of the facilities that exist across Canada.”
In having funding for 12 areas, he calls it a step forward.
“It’s an expensive problem to address, but we are making progress,” he said. “The reality is our fishermen need these facilities. If you want safe facilities to use, to tie up and unload product, which contributes tremendously to our economy, than we need to have infrastructure in place.”